Berhampur (Odisha): When Subham Kumar Sahu, a Class IX student of City High School here, attended his first class after two months of summer vacation, he said “have toilet” when the teacher called out his name. “A new form of roll call has been put in place in schools here to create a sense of hygiene among students and their families. This is part of Ganjam district’s open defecation-free drive,” said District Education Officer Sanatan Panda. School headmaster, Surya Narayan Sabat, had asked the students to respond with either “have toilet at home” or “don’t have toilet at home” instead of the usual “present Sir/Madam” during roll call before the school shut down for summer.
“Prior to the reopening of the schools, we had instructed the block education officers and headmasters to follow the new system,” Sabat said. Not only City High School, but all government-run schools across Ganjam district are following the practice. The district has 683 high schools, 1,324 upper primary and 2,430 primary schools. “This will not only create a sense of hygiene among students, but also ensure the construction of toilets in homes without one,” said Vijay Amruta Kulange, project director, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA).
Echoing similar sentiments, the District Education Officer (DEO) said “we have also decided to provide citation to the students as well as the teachers who motivate parents to construct toilets at home.” Replicating a similar project adopted in Narmada, Gujarat last year to ensure that the district became open- defecation free, Ganjam district, which has toilets in only 30 per cent of houses, adopted this new initiative. In Narmada, all the houses had toilets within a month of the district administration adopting such a method, officials said.
“We have constructed more than one lakh toilets in 2015-16 and in the first three months of this year,” said DRDA’s Additional Project Director, Sudam Mandal. The district has around seven lakh households. Only six gram panchayats and 57 villages have been declared open-defecation free. “When the students will be involved in the open defecation-free drive with the new concept, we hope the district will achieve the goal under Swachh Bharat Mission,” said Panda. PTI
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